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NCSD starting the school year with 127 employee vacancies

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Students exit Natrona County High School on Sept. 2, 2020, in Casper. 

Natrona County School District is starting the school year with 127 vacancies across its schools.

The district employs a total of nearly 3,000 people.

That number of vacancies, which encompasses 103 classified and 24 certified positions, is about on par with numbers from year to year, according to the district’s spokesperson Tanya Southerland. (Southerland did not respond to the Star-Tribune by deadline regarding specific vacancy numbers from past years).

There are typically more vacancies at the start of the school year, according to Southerland.

Some positions in the district, like special education teachers, education support personnel and education support specialists, cafeteria employees and bus drivers, are consistently hard to fill. Right now, the district is advertising one special education teacher, 24 education support personnel and education support specialist jobs, six cafeteria and six transportation personnel positions. Some of those openings are for part-time employment.

The district is also advertising seven teacher and two substitute teacher positions.

During the 2021 school year, the school district reduced the staffing budget by 45 positions because of lower student enrollment during the pandemic. Lower student enrollment means less money for the district, since funding from the state is attached to the number of students.

That budget cut carried over into the 2022 school year, meaning that the district is still trying to eliminate those 45 positions. (The district plans to get rid of those positions over time through attrition.)

It’s not clear how many of those positions have already been cut or how they factor into this year’s number of vacancies. Southerland did not respond to the Star-Tribune by deadline to clarify.

Staffing up schools is a challenge across the state — and across the nation.

According to data from the Wyoming Department of Education, 12 school districts in Wyoming had a negative teacher count change in the 2019-2020 school year, meaning that they hired fewer teachers than the number who left the previous year. In the same year, 17 districts had a negative count change for full-time educators.

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